Soak up the views in Lake George, discover the country town that was a former prisoner of war camp, hike to Gibraltar Falls, visit the home of Banjo Paterson and more on the best ACT road trip routes.
Canberra to Tharwa, ACT/NSW
The drive from Canberra to Tharwa will take just over two hours, but it’s well worth visiting this country town, which was a prisoner of war camp during World War II. The stunning Japanese gardens, cemetery and Australia’s World Peace Bell serve as constant reminders of the historic events that took place here.
To get there, take the Barton Highway for just over two hours, and then you’ll arrive in beautiful Cowra, where you can sample superb local food and wine and picturesque waterways.
Once you’re there, be sure to visit the gardens, the cemetery and ring the World Peace Bell to pay homage to that time in history. You should also check out the Cowra Heritage Walk, which covers a whopping 15 sites of historic interest. The Cowra Regional Art Gallery is also worth a visit, as are the wineries, where you can taste some of the state’s most promising wines. It’s Cowra’s climate, with warm days and cool nights that ensures the wine produced is top notch.
Canberra to Young round trip, ACT
This is a road trip that’ll have you stepping back in time, taking in quaint country towns like Berrima and Braidwood. Recommended as a four-day drive, it’s well worth choosing to spend your nights in charming colonial properties when you can, to properly soak in the theme of the trip.
First stop is Mittagong, where you can explore the stunning art galleries and antique stores of Bowral and Moss Vale. If you can, spend a night in Milton House to stay you’ve spent the night in one of the hotels with the most picturesque gardens in the country.
From there, you’ll head to Yass; the home of Banjo Paterson during his youth. This is rich sheep grazing country, and well worth taking the day to explore.
Next up, you’ll head straight to Young; aka Australia’s cherry capital. You can actually take part in the fruit picking between November and April, or you can drink the fruit, so to speak, at one of the wineries in the Hilltops wine region.
READ MORE: A foodie’s road trip through Yass Valley
Canberra to Batemans Bay
Just a two-hour trip, heading to Batemans Bay for the day – or a long weekend, ideally – is the perfect getaway from a gloomy Canberra winter day, to seek a little sunshine. To get there just follow the Kings Highway towards the coast. Once you arrive, there are a number of things you can do, from a perusal of the weekend markets, to grabbing your bike and hitting the Batemans Bay cycleway.
For those who seek a little more adventure, why not go horseriding at Timbertops Horse Riding? Or check out Old Mogo Town; a nod to the 1850s gold mining era.
A drive down to nearby Pebbly Beach will see you making friends with tame kangaroos, and you can head to the Botanic Gardens and use the BBQ facilities to set up an all-day hangout with the family.
Canberra to Gibraltar Falls, ACT
More like a day trip, the journey to Gibraltar Falls won’t take you very long – but it’s worth dedicating a day to. Once you park, it’s only a short walk to Gibraltar Falls, but once there you’ll often find that you’re completely alone in the magnificent setting. Once there you can get right up close to the waterfall and the rock face, as well as the long drop down – so be careful.
It’s highly recommended that you take with you a picnic and enjoy the day gazing over the lookout. Bring your swimmers, too – as it’s perfectly okay to swim in the pools near the lookout at the top of the falls. But be careful – the water isn’t fast flowing but the rocks can be slippery and icy.
The other highlight is the Falls’ indigenous history. Be sure to explore the rock shelter and stone artefacts that can be found around the Gibraltar Valley for a look back at the Indigenous habitation of the area.
When travelling the three hours to Sydney, it’s important to have an idea of the places worth stopping off. When you start your journey, do yourself a favour and stop off at Goulburn’s famous Trapper’s Bakery and fuel up with one of their delicious chunky beef pies. Wash it down with a smooth coffee from their café.
From there, head to Lake George to take advantage of some of the incredibly scenic lookouts, including Weereewa Lookout, which allows you to take in the entirety of Lake George. There are also a few scattered picnic tables if you wish to take a longer break.
Before heading into Sydney city, it’s worth pulling in to Bowral to take in this quaint country town. With an increasingly cosmopolitan high street, Bowral’s houses and restaurants still maintain a lot of country charm the town has always had. The antique shops are also worth a visit, to pick up a rare souvenir.